Laughing Only On The Outside

Robin Williams' passing is one of the first celebrity deaths that has really thrown me.  He made me laugh more in the 90s than any other actor.  My siblings I quoted his best lines from Hook, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Good Will Hunting frequently. He was a part of the entertainment of my youth and today I am grateful for the part he unknowingly played in that time in my life. But today, the laughter he gave to so many is replaced by questions. So many questions. How does seemingly one of the more entertaining and funny actors, and by all accounts, a true gentleman off the screen as well, find himself in a place where taking his own life is the answer?  Where a man loved by so many finds himself absolutely alone and ending his own life is the choice he makes?

A friend of mine in high school that I lost touch with committed suicide after college. A good friend went through a really dark time and hinted at suicide a couple years ago but fortunately is in a better place now. Another good friend fights depression daily and openly and has taught me so much about the grip it can have on you.  And those are just the friends and circumstances I know about. Who did I talk to last week that was laughing on the outside but destroyed on the inside? Did I even think to truly ask how they were REALLY doing? Not just the "fine" or "really busy, wow!" answer we all give in the 140 character at a time attention span world we live in. Am I spending time with people because it is on my calendar or am I being present with people and fully engaged in what is really happening in their world?

For over three months earlier this year, I lied to every single person that asked me "How are you doing?" Good friends, family, everyone. I wasn't doing well and had let my world spin my head in such a way that I was convinced if anyone knew how not-well I was doing, the house of cards I'd constructed to conceal the confusion and hurt would come falling down and I'd be exposed for the fraud I believed I was.  It was a really dark place and it took a lot to pull out of that nose dive.

It took hugs from friends who didn't know how much that hug meant.

It took hard questions from folks that were willing to call my bluff when I responded with "fine."

It took some one foot in front of the other honesty in my journal to unpack how I'd allowed my mind to live in that dark place.

And above all, it took time.

Time for me to get back to understanding that every single person I was talking with was fighting their own something.

Time for me to be okay with not having it all together and that other people knew. (Even though they already knew, I just now knew they knew.)

Time for me to get back to learning and growing and asking for help without forcing myself to go through the mental gymnastics I'd become accustomed to in my hide'n'seek phase.

And while there is, and always will be, the possibility of a quick slide back to that dark place, there are things that can be done right now to strengthen the good in the places where we are now. Life is too hard to try and do this by ourself. There are too many ways life can beat us up to go it alone.  Every single one of us is fighting something inside and making it up as we go.  You aren't the only one.

And the sooner we all realize that, the sooner we can work together to fight through this beating known as life, rejoicing with those that rejoice and mourning with those that mourn.

"The powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse."